In the near future, all California high school students will probably have to take ethnic studies courses before they graduate. That's fine in theory but the process so far has been marred by political bias, extreme hostility to Israel, and not coincidentally, a complete white-washing of anti-Semitism in America.
The first draft of the California ethnic studies curriculum was recently released to the public with the comment period ending on August 15. Its glossary is almost a parody of political correctness. It calls for students to learn such terms as "Herstory" in which "The prefix 'her' instead of 'his' is used to disrupt the often androcentric nature of history." But even this term is now considered politically incorrect so students will also be taught about "Hxrstory," which is "used to describe history written from a more gender inclusive perspective. The 'x' is used to disrupt the often rigid gender binarist approach to telling history."
Under the draft curriculum, students will also be taught about "Heteropatriarchy- a system of society in which men and heterosexuals (especially heterosexual men) are privileged, dominant, and hold power" and "Cisheteropatriarchy- a system of power that is based on the dominance of cisheterosexual men."
Students will also be taught about racism, sexism and Islamophobia. However, one term that they will not be taught is "anti-Semitism." Although the curriculum's glossary makes room for all the terms mentioned here, anti-Semitism is nowhere to be found. This is particularly amazing because there are more Jewish people living in California than almost anywhere else in the world and hate crimes against them are up sharply.
In fact, hate crimes against Jews are more common in America than hate crimes against Muslims–nearly five times as common. But you would never know it from the draft standards. As noted, they discuss Islamophobia but not anti-Semitism. They have a robust section discussing anti-Arab stereotypes but not anti-Semitic stereotypes. The silence about hate and hate crimes against Jews is deafening.
Given the large number of Jewish Californians and all the hate crimes directed against them, what might account for this willful silence? Looking at the draft standards as a whole, the answer is obvious: it is extreme hostility to Israel. The academic left, the folks who embrace terms such as "Cisheteropatriarchy," largely sees Israel as an oppressor state and believes that the very idea of a Jewish homeland is inherently oppressive.
Given that these are supposed to be standards for teaching students about various ethnicities of Californians, one would think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a foreign policy issue, would not be a part of the curriculum. But the drafters found plenty of room to bring it up anyway and consistently in a manner that vilifies Israel.
For example, the draft curriculum discusses the "Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS)" movement against Israel. This would seem to have little to do with the study of ethnicity in California. Nonetheless, it is included and described in a way that one-sidedly demonizes Israel: "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)- is a global social movement that currently aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions. Inspired by tactics employed during the South African anti-apartheid movement, the Palestinian-led movement calls for the boycott, divestment, and sanctioning of the Israeli government until it complies with International law."
Comparing Israel to South Africa is as one-sided as a curriculum can get. The curriculum is even more one-sided since it mentions nothing about any of the reasons that Israel remains in the West Bank, such as legitimate fear that the West Bank will fall under Hamas control if Israel withdraws. Hamas is a terrorist organization that regularly launches rockets at Jewish civilian's homes and schools and diverts international aid to build terrorist tunnels. Although polling data of Palestinians shows that Hamas is as likely to win an election as the Palestinian Authority, the draft curriculum does not see fit to even mention its existence. This one-sided curriculum is propaganda, not education.
Critics of Israel often bristle at the idea that they are promoting anti-Semitism. And it is, of course, possible to criticize Israeli policies without being an anti-Semite. But this egregious draft curriculum shows yet again how hatred of Israel leads even intelligent people to downplay anti-Semitism. Acknowledging the global breadth and depth of anti-Semitism might be seen as justifying the need for a Jewish state to protect Jews from violence and oppression. This would complicate the narrative that a Jewish state is a form of apartheid, which is how the draft curriculum describes it.
To be clear, this is a draft, not a final product. At a press conference on Wednesday, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond stated, "Jews are being attacked at this time in synagogues. Acts of hate are happening against the Jewish people. They must be included."
Nonetheless, it is important to ask how such a biased document has gotten this far. If one looks at the fact that the same document ignores anti-Semitism and also demonizes Israel, it is difficult to ignore the link between these two attitudes. If a person thinks that the world's only Jewish state is an unredeemed villain and that it hides behind the excuse of anti-Semitism to justify its existence as a Jewish state, of course, that person is going to be more likely to ignore evidence of anti-Semitism. The demonization of Israel and the white-washing of anti-Semitism in the same document is not a coincidence. Not only should the draft be drastically altered, but Californian's should be demanding that process for creating it be reformed as well.